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Dermatitis. 2011 Jan-Feb;22(1):33-9.

Patch testing with uranyl acetate in veterans exposed to depleted uranium during the 1991 Gulf war and the Iraqi conflict.

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Department of Pathology, New York University, New York, NY, USA.



The Depleted Uranium Follow-Up Program is a clinical surveillance program run by the Baltimore Veterans Affairs Medical Center since 1993 for veterans of the Gulf and Iraqi wars who were exposed to depleted uranium (DU) as a result of "friendly-fire" incidents.


In 2009, 40 veterans from this cohort were screened for skin reactivity to metals by patch-testing with extended metal series and uranyl acetate (0.25%, 2.5%, and 25%). A control arm comprised 46 patients without any known occupational exposures to DU who were seen at the University of Maryland Dermatology Clinic for evaluation of allergic contact dermatitis.


Excluding irritant reactions, no patch-test reactions to uranyl acetate were observed in the participants. Irritant reactions to DU were more common in the clinic cohort, likely reflective of the demographic differences between the two arms of the study. Biologic monitoring of urine uranium concentrations in the DU program participants with 24-hour urine samples showed evidence of percutaneous uranium absorption from the skin patches.


We conclude that dermatitis observed in a subset of the veterans was unrelated to their military DU exposure. Our data suggest that future studies of skin testing with uranyl acetate should utilize 0.25%, the least irritating concentration.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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